National Review Online asked for my favorite Thanksgiving recipe or tip, which I was happy to oblige, but they’ve got my named spelled wrong. In any case, here’s the complete text:
My favorite Thanksgiving recipe involves lightly rinsing the chilled glass first with Vermouth. . . oh, wait, that’s an everyday recipe. Never mind.
Thanksgiving presents a tough choice. Should you cook the turkey on a rotisserie grill, or should you deep-fry it? Forget the barbaric oven, but if it’s all you have, give yourself a fighting chance and cook the turkey upside-down–that is on a V-rack with the breast side down, so that the white meat doesn’t dry out so badly. (Wait: can we actually still say “white meat,” or is that racist?)
Now the best solution to this dilemma is simple: make sure you have enough people coming to dinner so that you can do both! Works for me. You can cook a turkey on a rotisserie in about half the time as an oven; about an hour and a half does it for a 15 lb turkey, though you’ll need to adjust significantly upward if you’re cooking one of those special gourmet Lance Armstrong thunder-thigh, steroid-plumped 24-pounders. Likewise, you can deep fry a 15 lb turkey in about 35 to 40 minutes, if you have the oil pre-heated to about 350 degrees. (If you don’t pre-heat your oil properly, your turkey will look and taste like something that washed up from the BP Gulf oil spill.) Safety tips: only do this OUTSIDE. Pre-measure the oil to make sure Archimedes doesn’t exact hubristic revenge. Make sure the turkey is completely thawed inside and out; if there’s any part still frozen, or if there is ice lurking anywhere in the bird, you’ll think someone inserted a Stuxnet virus into your rig.
And always brine your turkey for a day before cooking. Any of the over-the-counter brines will do, but if you’re stuck, just boil up a couple handfuls of salt and a few herbs in about two cups of water, let cool down, add more cold water and then soak the turkey in a tub or large bucket. Both rotisserie and deep-fried turkeys are much juicier and more flavorful. If you get the turkey right, side dishes don’t matter. The dirty little secret of Thanksgiving side dishes is that they were invented mostly to cover for the fact that we’ve been overcooking our turkeys for decades, making them dry and barely edible.
As for the subsidiary question of wine-food pairing for Thanksgiving, the answer is Yes: they should be paired. But those details belong in another post.